Giuliani and Abortion

Deroy Murdock has a piece on National Review Online today about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's record on abortion.

Murdock -- who is a strong supporter of Giuliani for president in 2008 (as am I) -- does not run from Giuliani's past statements in favor of the pro-choice position.  But he points out that during Giuliani's tenure as mayor, the number of abortions fell in New York City by more than the national average, and Giuliani did not actively promote policies that would have led to an increase in the number of abortions.  As Murdock puts it:

"Giuliani essentially verbalized his pro-choice beliefs while avoiding policies that would have impeded abortion's generally downward trajectory."
However, Murdock's implicit effort to credit Giuliani with the declining number of abortions during his tenure as mayor goes too far.  As Murdock acknowledges, the number of abortions was declining nationwide during this period -- obviously for demographic reasons -- and New York City merely reflected that trend.  Unless Murdock can show that there was something special about Giuliani's public policies that reduced the number of abortions in New York City, which I doubt, I think he has over-reached in his efforts to prop up Giuliani's "social conservative" credentials. 

A much better argument to show Giuliani's social conservatism would be based on Giuliani's heroic leadership in sharply reducing crime and improving the quality of life for the vast majority of New York City's hardworking, law-abiding residents; his program to clean up and revitalize Times Square, which transformed a pornography- and drug-filled neighborhood into a bustling tourist and commercial area; and his outspoken opposition to the use of public funds for pornographic and sacrilegious "art."  Giuliani certainly has his "libertarian" tendencies, but I submit that his core philosophy as a public official is deeply, unapologetically middle class.

From the standpoint of political strategy on the abortion issue, I completely agree with Murdock's recommendation that Giuliani should -- indeed, must -- come out in favor of parental notification rules and in opposition to partial birth abortion.  He also must commit himself to appointing Supreme Court justices who embrace an "originalist" or "strict constructionist" philosophy of constitutional interpretation, without regard to their personal views on abortion.  These are widely-held positions among the American people, who generally do not like the idea of abortion on demand (which has been imposed on the country by judicial fiat), but who also are not in favor of a strictly pro-life position.  As much as conservatives like to make fun of the Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare" mantra, it is much closer to the American consensus on abortion than the Republican Party platform.

This is not the place to make the case for Giuliani in 2008, but I urge all Republicans and conservatives to consider whether they would rather have a President Giuliani, or a President Hillary.

Steven M. Warshawsky
Deroy Murdock has a piece on National Review Online today about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's record on abortion.

Murdock -- who is a strong supporter of Giuliani for president in 2008 (as am I) -- does not run from Giuliani's past statements in favor of the pro-choice position.  But he points out that during Giuliani's tenure as mayor, the number of abortions fell in New York City by more than the national average, and Giuliani did not actively promote policies that would have led to an increase in the number of abortions.  As Murdock puts it:

"Giuliani essentially verbalized his pro-choice beliefs while avoiding policies that would have impeded abortion's generally downward trajectory."
However, Murdock's implicit effort to credit Giuliani with the declining number of abortions during his tenure as mayor goes too far.  As Murdock acknowledges, the number of abortions was declining nationwide during this period -- obviously for demographic reasons -- and New York City merely reflected that trend.  Unless Murdock can show that there was something special about Giuliani's public policies that reduced the number of abortions in New York City, which I doubt, I think he has over-reached in his efforts to prop up Giuliani's "social conservative" credentials. 

A much better argument to show Giuliani's social conservatism would be based on Giuliani's heroic leadership in sharply reducing crime and improving the quality of life for the vast majority of New York City's hardworking, law-abiding residents; his program to clean up and revitalize Times Square, which transformed a pornography- and drug-filled neighborhood into a bustling tourist and commercial area; and his outspoken opposition to the use of public funds for pornographic and sacrilegious "art."  Giuliani certainly has his "libertarian" tendencies, but I submit that his core philosophy as a public official is deeply, unapologetically middle class.

From the standpoint of political strategy on the abortion issue, I completely agree with Murdock's recommendation that Giuliani should -- indeed, must -- come out in favor of parental notification rules and in opposition to partial birth abortion.  He also must commit himself to appointing Supreme Court justices who embrace an "originalist" or "strict constructionist" philosophy of constitutional interpretation, without regard to their personal views on abortion.  These are widely-held positions among the American people, who generally do not like the idea of abortion on demand (which has been imposed on the country by judicial fiat), but who also are not in favor of a strictly pro-life position.  As much as conservatives like to make fun of the Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare" mantra, it is much closer to the American consensus on abortion than the Republican Party platform.

This is not the place to make the case for Giuliani in 2008, but I urge all Republicans and conservatives to consider whether they would rather have a President Giuliani, or a President Hillary.

Steven M. Warshawsky